I'm done with chemo. Done! Done! Done! Done! Done!
As many of you know, my last chemo treatment was on Thursday, February 3. Finally, I'm starting to feel like myself again (I'd say I'm currently at about 65-70%) and each day I'm feeling better and getting stronger. Today was a big day for me and I just realized how many positive things have happened over the last week or two that have helped to bring me to my current outlook. As of today, I feel like I have a renewed sense of purpose. I feel excited about things again. And I feel like the first chapter of breast cancer is coming to a close. Sure, I know I'm not done yet, there is still quite a bit to do, but I feel like the hardest part is over and I can handle the next phase much better. Things are starting to come together and everything now feels like its happening for a reason.
A couple weeks ago, I was stressing out about my surgery options. I felt sure that I was going to have to have a mastectomy due to the size of my tumor and I just couldn't get comfortable with the idea. But after meeting with another surgeon (and having almost completed chemo) I found out that my tumor has shrunken significantly and that a lumpectomy may now be an option. My tumor was initially about 9cm large and is now estimated to be about 5cm. This made me feel so much better. I can always go back and have a mastectomy later if I want, but for now, I'm way more comfortable with the less invasive procedure. I'm still waiting to confirm with my primary surgeon, but I feel good about it.
Throughout this whole thing, I've been on a quest to find another twenty-something going through what I'm going through. I knew they existed and I'd heard and read about them, but I needed to meet someone to prove to myself that I wasn't alone. But all I had found were women who had breast cancer when they were in their late twenties but now its 5, 10, 20 years later and women who are in their mid thirties- to mid forties who currently have breast cancer. All of these women have been wonderful and great resources, but I still felt like there was something missing. But last week I met a 29 year old going through chemo and last night I met another 28 year old who was just diagnosed. And now I feel a sense of victory. I'm sorry that these women have to deal with this, but it feels good to see another way too-young face whose doing the same thing I am (I say "way too young" because most of the women I've met I think are too young to be dealing with this).
Finally, as I've mentioned in this blog before, my goal from the beginning of this was to take something away from this whole experience -- to get something good out of it and be able to contribute something back. I do not want this experience to be a waste. Until recently, I was only able to deal with getting through chemo and just making it through everyday, that I wasn't able to see beyond that first hill. But now that I'm over the first hump, I feel like things are starting to fall into place and my purpose is starting to reveal itself. I'm also starting to feel like my old self again. Not who I was 6 months ago, but who I was 2, 3, 5 years ago. This sounds corny, but I feel a new fire in me and the passion and drive I have been lacking for awhile. And it all seems so easy ... things are starting to fall into my lap and make sense and the path just seems so clear that I would be blind if I didn't just follow it.
Today I was encouraged to start a young women's breast cancer group and for any of you who know me well, this is something that is right up my alley. I've gone to a couple of young women with breast cancer support groups, but they are for women under 40 or 45 and dominated mostly by women in their mid-thirties to mid-forties. These groups are great -- they meet once a month, are facilitated by a counselor and give everyone a chance to air their concerns, talk about their feelings and ask question. What I haven't found is a young women with breast cancer social group. Arlington, Alexandria and DC are filled with young professionals and more and more young women are being diagnosed with breast cancer. When you have breast cancer, you don't want to dwell on it all the time, you want to take the moments when you feel good and have fun -- live life. I have a lot of resources now at my disposal and I think there could be a growing group of women who would be interested in getting together and hanging out with other women like them and doing something fun. Something not related to cancer.
This is my new project. And I'm excited. I want to get started immediately. I just keep thinking in my head "I'm baaaack!" and it feels so good to feel like this again.
I realize this whole post may sound extremely corny, cheesy and lame but I'm not sure I really care.
I also have to say that I'm extremely excited about my end of chemo celebration next Friday (2/19) and I cannot wait to see everyone there. I think I should be back up to at least 95% by then, so be ready to party. I also want to take lots of pictures to document the night, my post-chemo self and my perfectly-shaped for scarf wearing head, so plan to bring your cameras.
And if you hear of any young women (or anyone really who needs it) with breast cancer whether they are in the area or not, feel free to send them my way. I look forward to being a resource to others who have to go through this.